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Child maintenance dodgers still safe

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Thousands of child maintenance defaulters are still off the hook despite an amendment of the Maintenance Act last year which would have got them blacklisted. Regulations governing the blacklisting of maintenance defaulters will now not be finalised until next year, the Justice Department said.

So far 17,000 cases have been registered under the amended act, with 6,500 criminal cases opened. Another 6000 cases were finalised under section 26 of that law.

However, those 6000 cases now hang in the balance because of the delay. Section 26 states that, once an order has been granted against a maintenance defaulter, a clerk of the court must forward the defaulter’s details to “any business which has as its object the granting of credit or is involved in the credit rating of persons”.

In a written parliamentary reply to a question put by the DA’s Werner Horn, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said the regulations will be ready early next year.

“A set of draft regulations has been prepared and the credit bureaus, the key stakeholders in the implementation of these provisions, are being engaged.”

Horn said the government was again dragging its feet on implementing an important law.

“When we passed the act the ANC had wanted to withdraw the specific clause allowing, or calling for, the blacklisting of defaulters.

“Then there was a public uproar and they buckled under the pressure … they did not have the appetite to do it. They just decided not to implement it,” said Horn.

“This is not something that needs regulations. The act is very specific; it says once you default on maintenance, the court shall furnish the credit bureaus with your personal particulars, so there is no discretion, there is nothing that calls for regulation. It must just be implemented.”

Mbuyiselo Botha, of the Commission for Gender Justice, said implementation should be expedited.

“This is how the bureaucracy and red tape disadvantage women. Issues of maintenance go to the heart of women struggling to maintain their kids who have been abandoned by their fathers.”

The department did not respond to questions about the delay.

[Source: Times Live]
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